Falkner Evans: Marbles

Jack Bowers By

Sign in to view read count
Falkner Evans: Marbles
On his fifth recording as leader, pianist / composer Falkner Evans has expanded his group size from trio (the first three) and quintet (the fourth) to sextet with vibraphonist Steve Nelson added on three of the album's ten numbers, the first nine of which were written by Evans. Even though this was a one-off, Evans' teammates are skillful enough to make it sound like a working ensemble. One reason for this is that the rhythm section (bassist Belden Bullock, drummer Matt Wilson) have been at Evans' side for more than a decade. Another is that Nelson, trumpeter Ron Horton and saxophonist Ted Nash have brightened the New York City jazz scene for many years and can settle comfortably into any neighborhood.

That environment, as crafted by Evans, embraces a range of moods and tempos without departing from the core values of melody, rhythm, harmony and group dynamics that have enlivened small-group jazz from its inception. Even though one would be hard-pressed to pick Evans out of a lineup, he is an accomplished pianist who plays all the right notes and phrases and weaves them into a rich and colorful tapestry. His writing is much the same: straightforward and unassuming, resting firmly on the guidelines established by his elders. Within that framework, Evans and his partners are able to craft a series of bright and engaging tunes that may be less than daring but are altogether agreeable.

The same holds true for solos: graceful and emphatic in the best jazz tradition with incisive statements along the way by Horton, Nash, Blake, Bullock and the leader, not to mention Nelson who is heard to good advantage on the easygoing "Hidden Gem." Evans favors brisk tempos, which is good, as the ensemble is at its loose and swinging best on "Global News," "This for That," "Marbles" and "Dear West Village"—which is not to say that Evans' other tunes are less than pleasing. After sweeping through nine of them, the group has some fun on the finale, an abbreviated version of Duke Ellington's "Things Ain't What They Used to Be."

While there's not much that is beyond ordinary on Marbles, neither is there much to disparage. It's simply sharp, plain-spoken jazz, ably performed by craftsmen who know best how to make it charming and pleasurable.

Track Listing

Pina; Civilization; Sing Alone; Global News; Hidden Gem; This From That; Mbegu; Marbles; Dear West Village; Things Ain't What They Used To Be.


Falkner Evans: piano; Michael Blake: saxophone, tenor; Ted Nash: saxophone, alto; Ron Horton: trumpet; Belden Bullock: bass; Matt Wilson: drums; Steve Nelson: vibraphone.

Michael Blake: soprano saxophone; Ted Nash: clarinet, flute; Ron Horton: flugelhorn; Steve Nelson (5,8,10).

Album information

Title: Marbles | Year Released: 2020 | Record Label: Consolidated Artists Productions

Post a comment about this album


Shop Amazon


Read Jammin' With KC
Jammin' With KC
Sylwester Ostrowski
Read What Comes Next
What Comes Next
Peter Bernstein
Read A Silent Play in the Shadow of Power
A Silent Play in the Shadow of Power
Bruno Parrinha/Abdul Moimême/Carlos Santos
Read Suite!
Roberto Magris

All About Jazz needs your support

All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, shelter in place and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary effort that will help musicians now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the bottom right video ad). Thank you.

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.